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A History of Appalachia
     

A History of Appalachia

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by Richard B. Drake
 

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Richard Drake has skillfully woven together the various strands of the Appalachian experience into a sweeping whole. Touching upon folk traditions, health care, the environment, higher education, the role of blacks and women, and much more, Drake offers a compelling social history of a unique American region. The Appalachian region, extending from Alabama in the

Overview

Richard Drake has skillfully woven together the various strands of the Appalachian experience into a sweeping whole. Touching upon folk traditions, health care, the environment, higher education, the role of blacks and women, and much more, Drake offers a compelling social history of a unique American region. The Appalachian region, extending from Alabama in the South up to the Allegheny highlands of Pennsylvania, has historically been characterized by its largely rural populations, rich natural resources that have fueled industry in other parts of the country, and the strong and wild, undeveloped land. The rugged geography of the region allowed Native American societies, especially the Cherokee, to flourish. Early white settlers tended to favor a self-sufficient approach to farming, contrary to the land grabbing and plantation building going on elsewhere in the South. The growth of a market economy and competition from other agricultural areas of the country sparked an economic decline of the region's rural population at least as early as 1830. The Civil War and the sometimes hostile legislation of Reconstruction made life even more difficult for rural Appalachians. Recent history of the region is marked by the corporate exploitation of resources. Regional oil, gas, and coal had attracted some industry even before the Civil War, but the postwar years saw an immense expansion of American industry, nearly all of which relied heavily on Appalachian fossil fuels, particularly coal. What was initially a boon to the region eventually brought financial disaster to many mountain people as unsafe working conditions and strip mining ravaged the land and its inhabitants. A History of Appalachia also examines pockets of urbanization in Appalachia. Chemical, textile, and other industries have encouraged the development of urban areas. At the same time, radio, television, and the internet provide residents direct links to cultures from all over the world. The author looks at the process of urbanization as it belies commonly held notions about the region's rural character.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A splendid synthesis by Kentuckian Drake (History/Berea Coll.), who has devoted his career to the study of Appalachia. In the author's definition,"Appalachia" comprises territory from New York to Alabama. He begins this swift, sweeping study not with the geological story (a questionable omission), but with the history of the earliest humans—Indians who lived in what is now northern Alabama about 8,000 years ago. (Earlier Indian groups had hunted in the region but did not remain.) Drake then considers the Europeans immigrants and identifies among them a mentality that remains today—what he calls a"yeomanesque aspiration for land." The first Europeans to arrive (circa 1650) were the fur traders, followed by a major influx of Scotch-Irish (about 250,000 of them between 1715 and the American Revolution) and a sizeable number of Germans. Drake then explores the effects of war on the region. He examines the harsh treatment of Indians, especially the notorious relocation of the Cherokee in 1838–39 (the shameful"Trail of Tears" from Tennessee to Oklahoma resulted in the deaths of some 5,000 Cherokees). Drake traces the roots of the deep divisions in the region between those with money and power and those without, and he maintains a reasonable balance between passionate advocacy and dispassionate scholarship in his analysis of the effects on the region of the coal, chemical, and hydroelectric power industries. Along the way, he discusses people and policies long associated with Appalachia—from Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett to the Tennessee Valley Authority to the War on Poverty. He shines some light on the little known regional histories ofAfrican-Americans(sometimescalled"Afrilachian") and of the"Melungeons" (a mysterious multi-racial people whose full story remains to be told). He also briefly surveys the development of literature, art, and music in the region. An essential text that establishes the facts, tells the stories, identifies the heroes and villains, explodes the stereotypes, and demystifies and celebrates the region. (16 pp. b&w photos; 8 maps)

From the Publisher
"Named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2002." —

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813137933
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
09/29/2004
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
844,311
File size:
4 MB

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History of Appalachia 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Father_of_5_Boys More than 1 year ago
This book originally interested me because I grew up in Western PA on the fringes of Appalachia, went to college in West Virginia, worked in Pittsburgh, and have a lot of friends and family in West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and other parts of Appalachia. Overall I was disappointed in the book though. I learned a few things, but it was written like an academic research paper, so it was a little boring. There were a lot of references to books and works that other people have done (99% of which I had never heard of) and what those people thought, but the author didn't really say whether he agreed or disagreed with those people. It was hard to tell what exactly his opinions are on the story, stereotypes, and economic conditions of Appalachia, so the book didn't present a firm position to bounce my thoughts off of (i.e. do I agree with him or not). At the same time though, it didn't seem like a pure history book (i.e. just the facts). It's kind of hard to describe, but overall it was sort of dissatisfying.